January 17, 2010

Review: Up in the Air

A movie about a guy who travels around the country just firing people all the time would generally be thought of as being either very funny or very depressing. Of course, if the movie has George Clooney, it's going to be a little of both. The man, of course, is in more places than the character he plays, Ryan Bingham. I think there has been a period of possibly half a year where there has been at least one film with Clooney in it and several months where at least two were played in wide release. Seriously, did the man receive some kind of terrible medical news? Is he going bankrupt? Does he just enjoy hogging all the acting spotlight? Who knows.

The movie's plot is relatively standard fare, as far as movies go. Bingham is a consultant who flies around the country firing people. As a result of the high amount of travel of his job, he is constantly flying, rarely stays at home, and has essentially no personal life. But (shock of shocks) this could all change when a new hire at the firm he works tries to make it possible to fire people via the internet, and Clooney meets a woman who shares his lifestyle that he begins to fall for. Really gripping, I know.

The plot, while rudimentary, serves the actors well. Everyone plays their roles well, including Clooney and Anna Kendrick. The characters, in no uncertain terms, seemed real to me, even though some of them had extraordinary lives.

There's not much to say about production values. I mean, most of the time the film is located in hotels or an airplane, or an office. There is a lot of product placement, though it doesn't feel out of place in a movie about corporate America.

Ultimately what defined the movie was the weak plot and the strong characters. Yes, the movie is interesting, but it seems like Clooney's character doesn't try too hard throughout, ironic since Bingham is such a hard worker. Maybe it makes the movie more realistic. It definitely made it more frustrating to watch.

This movie is going to garner Oscar buzz, so it's definitely worth watching. Go catch it in theaters. Just be careful though: after watching this movie, schedule something that might cheer you up afterwards. You'll probably need it.

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